Janet Sternburg has a new show of her photographs at the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, New York. Sternburg, who has had solo shows of her work in New York, Korea, Mexico and Berlin as well as portfolios in Aperture and Art Journal, is also a writer and former School of Critical Studies faculty member. She is married to CalArts President Steven D. Lavine.
The tools she uses for her visual art may be a bit surprising to some: disposable cameras or her iPhone 4.
Sternburg explains her choices in her Artist’s Statement:
These photographs are not the result of any manipulation whatsoever. I stand in these places and find these images. They arise from moments when everyday reality suddenly seems charged and asks for response.
I work with disposable and early iPhone cameras whose special qualities—fixed focus, limited depth of field—help me to suspend conventional seeing. We often go through the world saying, ‘I like this, I don’t like that.’ The photographic equivalent is to use sharp focus on what we like while using softer focus to make the so-called less interesting recede. I use these low-tech cameras to disrupt this normative way of seeing. Everything within the frame is of interest and of value.
In my photography what we usually see as separated—inside and outside, solid and fluid, past and present—is instead intermingled on a single plane, conveying the multiple layers that exist within a single moment. I love a little blur; razor-sharp clarity is not how I see the world. I want these images to be sufficient to the richness and porosity of mind and experience.
In his catalogue for a solo show of her work in Berlin, cultural critic Joern Jacob Rohwer wrote, “Janet Sternburg’s images can be understood as a school of seeing and an iconography of memory all at once.” Sternburg has described her photos as “layers in the moment,” in which timing, light and reflection play the key roles.
The works included in the exhibition were all made by Sternburg in Europe, Mexico and the U.S. between 2002-13. Many of the images have an ethereal or meditative quality enhanced by outdoor natural light. Sternburg describes this process as “street photography as spiritual practice.”
Also opening at Davis Orton Gallery is Performance for Camera and Imaginary Audience, featuring works by Barbara Kilpatrick, an interdisciplinary visual artist who unites elements of sculpture, photography and set/costume installation in her work.
A reception for both artists will be held on Saturday (Aug. 3) from 6-8 pm. The exhibitions will remain on view through Sept. 1.
Janet Sternburg's 'Passage' at Davis Orton Gallery
Barbara Kilpatrick, Performance for Camera and Imaginary Audience 114 Warren St., Hudson, NY 518.697.0266 Exhibitions on view through Sept. 1 Opening reception: Aug. 3, from 6-8 pm